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Aceves works his way up to bigs

Aceves works his way up to bigs

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NEW YORK -- When Alfredo Aceves walked along the blue line to the Yankees' clubhouse for the first time on Thursday, the newly called-up right-hander already had an idea of what he hoped to see in his Yankee Stadium locker by game time.

So when Aceves, promoted from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to add a fresh arm to the club's pitching staff, was offered a more standard uniform number, he requested to instead become the first Yankee to wear No. 91.

"When I was in high school, I used to watch basketball and the Chicago Bulls," Aceves said. "Dennis Rodman was one of the best players at that time. The way he played, you know? He made the other players [upset]. I liked that. They get frustrated."

The 25-year-old Aceves has done his share of troubling professional hitters already this season. Obtained from the Mexican League in February, Aceves has rocketed through the Yankees' farm system after opening the campaign at Class A Tampa of the Florida State League.

"It's amazing," Aceves said. "My goal was to come here in the States. I made that goal. After that, I was just playing -- I didn't know where I was going to finish. I'm here and it feels good."

He was 2-3 with a 4.12 ERA in 10 games (eight starts) at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, walking 13, striking out 42 and allowing 42 hits in 43 2/3 innings, when Aceves' hotel-room telephone began ringing on Wednesday with the news of his callup.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that Aceves was called up to add bullpen support -- right-hander Dave Robertson was optioned to Triple-A in a corresponding move -- but Aceves could also be in New York as a spot starter.

The New York Post reported on Thursday that right-hander Carl Pavano, who is scheduled to start on Friday against the Blue Jays, was placed on waivers, and he is available to any club that wishes to obtain him.

Girardi said that slotting Aceves into the rotation was not on the club's mind with the promotion.

"He's pitched very well," Girardi said. "He's got good stuff, he's got good command of his offspeed stuff. He's moved fairly quickly through our system and people have been real high on him."

Farewell Yankee Stadium

Aceves' uniform number became the second highest in franchise history -- Charlie Keller wore No. 99 during the 1952 season. But the Yankees are interested in more than trivia: Aceves, who throws a fastball, curveball and changeup, said that he knew the Yankees were scouting him in the Mexican League.

So, too, were other clubs -- the Red Sox, Indians and Royals were among the clubs that Aceves said expressed interest. But it was the Yankees who stepped up with a financial offer to pry him loose, after pitching six seasons in the Mexican League -- four with Yucatan and two with Monterrey through 2007.

New York thus became Aceves' second big league organization; originally signed by the Blue Jays in 2001, Aceves made 10 appearances for Toronto's Dominican Summer League club that season.

Informed that he would be assigned to the Dominican Republic again in 2002, Aceves said he instead opted to return home, believing that a day would come that he would pitch in the United States. It took seven years, and on Thursday, he made it all the way to Yankee Stadium.

"I'm excited to come here," Aceves said. "It's a new experience. It's going to be fun here."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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